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Modern Translation Services - Human vs Machine Translation

By Shohreh Fleming

 

21 February 2012

There are a number of issues that come to light when we consider the increasing need for translation services in the modern commercial world. Or, put more specifically: the need for quality translation services in the modern commercial world.

This issue has been highlighted, in part, by the advent, development and popularity of machine translation on the internet.

A debate has sparked up around the question of whether we will actually need human translators in the near future. Online, automated and most often free, machine translation tools are seen as a marvel of modern technology; a time saving (not to mention money saving) shortcut to translating text.

High levels of economic migration to the UK over the past few years drew attention to a real need for language services. Of course, it would be far simpler and more cost effective for a stretched public sector organisation to rely solely on machine translation, but there is a very good reason why this doesn't happen. The fact remains that, in many cases, machine translation fails due to its inability to take into account contextual issues and cultural nuances.

The issue then spreads globally as we begin to see the new challenges faced by the web as we head into a more diverse information age.

* * * *

If we look towards the expansion of the web, we see the demand for information in languages other than English escalate. Particularly when economically emergent nations add new users and therefore new voices and perspectives to the medium, changing the texture and flavour of the web. For an example of this we can look towards Asia where, in recent years, we have seen massive increases in the number of web users across the continent. And, according to many sources, China has now overtaken the US in its number of internet users; with a reported 253 million people with web access.

This fact is made more pertinent when you consider that there are significantly fewer sites available in Chinese than in English.

All this points to the need for information to be made available to the portion of the world community that will benefit most by gaining access to it. Of course, to make this information available you will need good quality translation so that your audience will understand essence and the context of what is being said. In cases like these, machine translation would be practically useless.

As needs increase, so does the requirement to fulfil that need.

* * * *

Back in the UK, many government initiatives have been put into place to promote integration among existing and emerging communities. Literature, road signage and local government web content have all been revised and republished in languages other than English. And, like the world community, this requirement is constantly evolving in terms of scale and complexity.

It is not improbable to consider the prospect that translation services will continue to flourish as more and more organisations begin to realise just how valuable it is to offer multilingual content and/or media to their audiences.

 

More Articles:

Why Should We Have Legal Translation? >>>
The Need for Translation Services In a Global Economy >>>
Simultaneous Interpreting >>>
Chronicling Progress in the World of Translation >>>
Promoting Integration via Multilingual Publishing >>>

 

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